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  • Dr. Susan Doering

Should you choose your work time and place?


Moving into the next phase of working, with Covid still present but not as aggressive as before, organisations find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Most are desperate to revive normality with the workforce largely present at the office during working hours and yet are acutely aware that times have changed and there is no going back to the past. The pandemic has changed our outlook on where and how we work.

Nearly a year ago, at the height of the pandemic, Accenture published a survey of 9,000 workers globally which found that over 80% would ideally choose a hybrid working model. They wanted the flexibility to choose when and where they worked. Most people are now voting for some kind of hybrid working arrangement.

So, how do you choose when and where you work, when to be in the office and when you can tune in from your home office?

In a discussion I had with a group of lawyers recently, several points became clear:

1. Hybrid meetings are not effective; either everyone should be in the office around the same table, or everyone is on-screen. A mixture makes effective communication very difficult. Conclusion: if an important meeting is convened on-site, you should be there. International meetings should be online for everyone.

2. Face time is vital for visibility and to be on the spot when the key contributors are being chosen

3. It’s good to get into the office together for key meetings

4. Informal “corridor meetings” and coffee break exchanges contribute a great deal to easy communication and solution-finding. If you can’t get into the office, you need to find ways to have this kind of informal catch-up anyway.

5. Use digital communication to have one-on-one calls both to prepare for a key meeting and to follow up after one.

6. Virtual meetings should be short meetings. Try scheduling no longer than 40 minutes – and stick to start and end times

In the no one size fits all, flexible approach it is tempting for some to stay away from the office as much as possible. I heard participants in our discussion say they were more productive at home, had more time and headspace for real thinking. But communication is nearly always deeper when we can see each other’s body language, eyes and smiles.

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